“A twisted teen love story.” Actress Ava Cantrell shows her range as titular character Abigail in horror film Abigail

Whether you’re a seasoned horror fan or someone who prefers to cover their eyes during scary scenes, actress Ava Cantrell said the film Abigail is for any type of movie fan. The film was released in December of 2023, and we got to chat with Ava to learn more about her first lead role, challenges of portraying a character in a horror film, and acting tips she picked up from prior costars. 

Abigail is set in 1976 and follows Ava’s character Abigail as she becomes friends with her bullied neighbor Lucas, played by Tren Reed-Brown, but her obsession turns deadly when she seeks revenge on those who did him wrong. Ava described the film as a twisted teen love story and said it is great for both fans of slasher films but also people new to the genre.

“It’s a really fun kind of like slasher horror film that’s fun for everybody to watch, and I think it especially good for first time horror movie watchers.”

In addition to Abigail, Ava stars in Lights Out and One Under the Sun, and is also known for her recurring role on Nickelodeon’s The Haunted Hathaways,in which she won Best Performance in a TV Series – Guest Starring Young Actress at the 35th Young Artists Awards in 2014. She also had a recurring role as Molly in the hit series Young Sheldon

“Getting the opportunity to play the lead was absolutely amazing, it’s like every actor’s dream.”

Ava told us that she first heard about and auditioned for Abigail in 2018. The film was put on hold during the pandemic, but they were able to film afterwards and she said it was an incredible experience. 

“When it finally came together after the pandemic, it was really exciting.”

Playing the character of Abigail was a first and came with many new acting lessons for Ava, as this was her first lead role after having a ton of experience in supporting roles. Ava said playing a character who doesn’t have much emotion or empathy was challenging because it was hard to relate to, but she studied a lot and also had fun playing a character so different from what she has done before. 

“She doesn’t really have empathy which causes her to be able to do some really bold and really crazy things without a second thought, and I think that moves the plot along in a really fun direction.”

Ava said doing the stunts, from the fight scenes to using an axe, and being able to watch them back and on screen was a cool perspective to see. 

“I feel like that’s really fun behind the scenes, seeing the stunts and then seeing them in the actual movie is totally different.”

We asked Ava about working on set of Young Sheldon, where she got to learn acting and comedy tips from Jason Alexander, known for his role in Seinfeld and also a guest star on the show. Working on a big comedy set was very different from filming Abigail, but Ava said she loved experiencing both sides of the business.

Thank you, Ava, for chatting with Young Entertainment. Follow her on her Instagram at @avacantrell. Watch the rest of the video where we ask her more about working with her scene partners, being a lead role in a film, and acting tips she has picked up. 

Consider this:

  • Don’t be expected to book a lead role right away. Having many supporting roles before your first lead role can help you learn a lot and be prepared for when that big project comes. 
  • Before an audition, study your character, study your lines, and try to understand your character’s intentions. 
  • Absorb as many acting tips and information as you can from your different experiences and those you work with.